Columbus Day Meander

A hot dry summer ended with a bang here. A hurricane, a torrential rainstorm and a month of gray rainy days. When all that ended in early October, fall was with us. The sun returned, along with  a spell of weather cool enough to require cycling in layers if riding in the early morning or evening. The past few days have been much warmer, more typical of fall in our region. Today brought summery heat and humidity coupled with the earthy smells of falling leaves, an interesting sensory juxtaposition.

It’s a day off and I decided it should include a meandering bike ride to some favorite spots in town.  First, I had to get the ANT cleaned up a little. She’s been through some rough weather and has a costing of dirt and grease to show for it.

Next I wanted to try out a new way of fastening my Wald basket to the rear rack. I love the basket, but when it’s attached, I can’t use a trunk sack or panniers. I’ve been fastening it with zip ties, which are cheap and easy to use. But after tightening them up enough to hold the basket securely they’re a pain to remove. Plus it’s a bit wasteful to have to throw away zip ties each time I swap out the basket for the Trunksack. Those drawbacks mean I hesitate to use the basket even when it would be the best way to carry things. A month or two ago, I picked up a package of 3″ NiteIze GearTies from REI thinking to try them as reusable basket fasteners. Since then I came upon a product that looks like reusable zip ties from Crate and Barrel. I ordered them, because they’re longer and might work better.  They should arrive pretty soon. In the meantime, today was the GearTie try out.

The GearTies were just a little short, the ends barely winding together. The basket seemed reasonably well attached, but I wondered if it would hold with weight in it. I added one of my Rivendell Irish straps as one more fastener to counteract the image of the loaded basket leaping suicidally into traffic. Time to take off!

I headed out for a favorite neighborhood meander through side streets to the Hilton entrance to Patapsco Park. Having previously discovered a road there that leads to a hidden small, woodsy campground, I decided that would be a great ride for a warm fall morning. The road to the campsite was barricaded, making it impassable to cars. All the better! I was on the only vehicle of any type, allowing me to roll down the steep hill with abandon. The climb up to the campsite is steep but short. I rode past the now empty “campground host” site, complete with a trailer and a screened in canopy. This reawakened a fantasy of spending summer living being a campground host in a lovely spot somewhere. The fantasy involves having ample time for biking, hiking, reading and relaxing. I don’t know if it’s really like that or if you are required to be available to campers 24-7.

This small campground has a few tent sites and some cabins.  The cabins are tiny, probably sleeping room only. It’s kind of an odd location for such a campground, perhaps .5 mile from a suburban residential neighborhood. Just guessing at the distance, as I don’t have a bike computer. I wonder how people find out about it? And what makes them want to camp here?

Cabin, Patapsco Park Family Campground

Back on the road to the main part of the park, I now had a short, steep downhill followed by a longer climb back out, enough to provide a bit of challenge.

I arrived back at the road that loops around a “recycled playground.” Much of the play equipment is made from old tires. Aesthetically it’s not much to shout about, but it’s a terrific repurposing of materials that would otherwise end up in the landfill, and children have a great time there. I spotted several bikes, some with child trailers.

Leaving the park, I rode Hilton to S Rolling. Right at the intersection of these two roads, I saw this armillary sphere. Just last night I surfed the internet looking at armillary spheres. I’d love to get one for our garden, but haven’t seen the one I want yet. I love the way they sculpturally represent how the universe was once imagined to be.

Riding S Rolling to Frederick has a scary spot, where the road both narrows and curves, making you feel that you could easily be struck from behind. But today there was not much traffic so no worries. I went through the elementary school grounds and rode up Summit to Beaumont to Edmonson, taking a left there to go to Scottino’s. This was the practical part of the ride and the reason I had attached the basket before leaving. There’s no bike parking available, even though the store is directly across from the entrance to the neighborhood bike/hike Old Trolley Trail. I cable-locked the ANT to a tall signpost in front of the store, taking care to position her so that nothing leaned out over the curb.

I rode the Trolley Trail for the return trip home, riding past a mural of Catonsville as it looked when streetcars used this route. So here was the test. Would the GearTies/Irish Strap fasteners hold up with a few pounds of cheese and deli meats in the basket? The suspense is killing you, I know, so I won’t keep you waiting. The basket stayed in place, a successful finish to a pleasant meander on a warm fall day.


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